Top UN rights official slams countries that block monitoring

A top UN Human Rights official said he was appalled by the emerging pattern of some countries that refuse to grant access to their territory to human rights officials.

A top UN Human Rights official said he was appalled by the emerging pattern of some countries that refuse to grant access to their territory to human rights officials.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, complained about the attempts to “block or evade human rights scrutiny” in the name of protecting national sovereignty.

Hussein’s speech at the opening of the rights council’s 32nd session in Geneva rebuked “populist” politicians’ “dangerous xenophobes and bigots,” mentioning Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump.

The Commissioner added he was appalled by countries that obstruct investigations and try to discredit global institutions like the UN.

Hussein said that Turkey had not allowed UN officials to investigate war crimes in the Kurdish region where extrajudicial killings and entrapment of civilians have been reported.

Additionally, he said Iran had not allowed access to his office since 2013 and had systematically overlooked requests for technical dialogue on the death penalty.

“This is particularly regrettable given the reports we continue to receive of fundamental problems with the administration of criminal justice,” Hussein stated.

The UN Commissioner pointed to mass executions in Iran, discrimination and prosecution of minorities and women, as well as “restrictions on human rights defenders, lawyers, and journalists.”

He slammed China, Venezuela, Syria, Belarus, Eritrea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Israel among other countries that refuse to cooperate with human rights officials.

Moreover, he harshly criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the person responsible for heinous crimes such as bombing hospitals and attacking civilians.

“A number of States have argued that unless the Human Rights Council can secure the approval of the concerned State, it should avoid looking into situations [where] governments are alleged to be [violating human rights],” Hussein said.

“I am wholly unpersuaded by this argument, a position buttressed by the fact that States espousing it use it inconsistently,” he continued.

“This Council’s clear and universal mandate to address human rights violations is not conditional on the approval of specific governments,” the Commissioner concluded.

 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany